BlueStacks is often hailed as “A Savior in the World of Android Application Management”.
It’s a rockstar when it comes to providing PC users the smartphone experience, and in a country like India, it has become the software of choice for low-end phone users.
Now, with its 5th version going into beta testing, Rosen Sharma, CEO of BlueStacks Inc., opens up about some of the nuances that went into its making.
In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda Esports’ Abhishek Mallick, Mr. Sharma provides some insights on the upcoming BlueStacks 5, along with some of his personal thoughts on the mobile esports scene in India.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q1. Sir! I would like to kick off today’s interview by having you shed some light on why you decided to shift your focus to the video games industry. You were a CTO at McAfee and then helped birth some incredibly successful start-ups like GreenBorder, VxTreme, and Teros. What about video games attracted you enough to prompt this shift?
Rosen Sharma: I got into gaming because of my children. Once you have kids, you learn that it is challenging to stay away from games. I have four daughters aged 18, 16, 14, and 9, and they all play games. I found that games that rise in popularity in their schools inevitably hit the top of the charts a few days/weeks later.
We have seen the same trend play out in real-time on the BlueStacks platform around the world. It is not just hardcore competitive shooter games that people are interested in playing. Our data shows that players are just as interested to play games with better controls and bigger screens. PC is a natural selection for these serious mobile gamers.
Q2. The BlueStack software is often praised as “A Saviour in the World of Android Application Management”. And with the recent launch of version 5 beta, much of the product had to be rewritten to make the platform significantly faster and more robust. What were some of the thoughts that went behind BlueStacks 5? Can you tell us about some of the major hurdles that you and your team faced along the way?
Rosen Sharma: We have always believed in listening to our users for driving our product roadmap and this has enabled us to bring the best features to the market. BlueStacks 5 is also developed based on the response we got from our gamer’s community.
Our gamers wanted the app players to be faster and support long gaming sessions without increasing the strain on system hardware. BlueStacks 5 is faster, smoother, and lighter than the previous version. The eco-mode is a great initiative for gamers who frequently switch between different apps. The FPS control is a long flight feature that ensures a longer and smoother gaming session.
The vastly upgraded Multi-instance manager and Eco mode will be game changers for the gaming community as they can now run more BlueStacks instances faster and without lag.
The biggest challenge we faced during the development of BlueStack 5 was starting from scratch. We were among the earliest app players in the industry and over the years, we had evolved into various business models. This time, we wanted to focus only on performance and user experience. This is particularly hard once you have evolved over such a long time.
Q3. Mobile gaming in India has always been an incredible affair. What are some of your thoughts on the current mobile gaming ecosystem, especially since the ban on PUBG Mobile?
Rosen Sharma: The mobile gaming ecosystem in India has rapidly evolved in the past couple of years. Major drivers of this growth are a surge in smartphone penetration and affordable 4G internet access across the country. With only 50% of mobile internet access, India still has massive growth potential. This positions India as the next big destination for mobile gaming growth, and developers have taken note.
With developers coming out with bigger and heavier games, more and more mobile gamers will play in interruption-free environments and migrate to PC-based platforms. PUBG showed the true potential of India’s mobile gaming appetite. After its ban, the gamers shifted to a similar game. Garena’s Free Fire is among the most popular mobile games in India. It became the most downloaded game in the world in 2019.
Q4. Riot Games’ League of Legends: Wild Rift is set to finally have its beta launch in India, in a couple of months. Do you feel that the mobile MOBA will be as popular in the nation as Free Fire currently is, and PUBG Mobile previously was?
Rosen Sharma: Wild Rift has great potential in India. MOBA is amongst the most popular genres here. Last year Mobile Legend and Arena of Velar, popular MOBA games, were banned in India, leaving many fans disappointed. A lot of those gamers have been waiting for Wild Rift to launch.
Like DOTA, League of Legends: Wild Rift is also going to be a free-to-play game, and hence PC gamers will have another alternative to explore, especially on their PC, using BlueStacks.
Q5. With the evolution and development of VR and AR technologies in mobile games, how much do you feel will this impact the industry as it stands today?
Rosen Sharma: From a pure population perspective, not much. VR/AR/Console is a niche, whereas mobile is mainstream. Access to and penetration of mobile games of all genres that have PVP or PVE gameplay where competition is possible is significantly higher than VR and Console games, where the cost alone creates a massive barrier to many otherwise willing gamers.
Mobile gaming captures broader demographics: we see larger age groups and an even number of female players than entrenched PC/VR/console esports.
Q6. Apart from BlueStacks 5, is there any other exciting software that the company is currently working on?
Rosen Sharma: We have a very strong pipeline and are set to re-invent this space. The consumer demand for BlueStacks has exploded, and the strong technology pipeline will lead to many exciting announcements over this year.
Q7. Which title has the most number of users on BlueStacks? (thoughts on the title and why it is so popular)
Rosen Sharma: With BlueStacks you can access nearly 2Mn mobile games. Among us and Free Fire are the most popular games.